The 6'1", 196 lbs. junior has one of the top fastballs in the entire draft and explains why he sports a 10.37 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio, up from his 8.71 K/9 he put up in 2013. While his K/9 went up in 2014 so hid his walks-per-nine from 1.29 in 2013 to 2.09 in 2014. The increase in walks is likely due to his increased use of his slider.
Nola, who turns 21 on Wednesday, does not rely solely on his fastball. He entered LSU with a plus-changeup that had a lot of sink to it which is one of the reasons the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in 2011. The changeup looks like a fastball out of his hand which makes the deceptive pitch that much more difficult to hit. During his time with the Tigers, Nola got away from using his changeup in order to develop his slider which has become a true power pitch as well. Getting back to throwing the changeup consistently, in addition to his fastball and slider, will make Nola a top pitching prospect in a hurry.
One area of Nola's game that jumps off the page is not only his strikeouts but the amount of hitters he gets to swing and miss. That's a great sign for a player who projects as a starter when he moves into professional baseball. Even with losing a little touch on his changeup, Nola still possesses great command which should allow him to progress through the minor leagues at a faster rate than other high school arms.
Accolades are nothing new for the 20-year-old. He was selected as a First-Team All-American in 2013 by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, ABCA, Perfect Game and NCBWA while also being selected as a finalst for the 2013 National Pitcher of the Year.
Fit With The Phillies:
Nola could be that guy for the Phillies. As previously stated, Nola's command will all him to be effective right away in the minor leagues and get him through quickly while honing his ability to throw his fastball, changeup and slider. He does not project as a front of the rotation starter right now.
Starting pitching is an area of weakness for the Phillies farm system and adding a pitcher like Nola would certainly help the outlook. There is a possibility that Nola is off the board by the time the Phillies select seventh overall but most believe he will be there at seven for the Phillies. It would be a surprise if the Phillies passed on Nola.
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